There is a new twist in the case of an undocumented immigrant who shot 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco and killed her. A California state appeals court decided on Friday to overturn the lone conviction against Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate.
This man stayed illegally in the United States and has previously been deported to Mexico five times. In November 2017, he was acquited of charges for first and second-degree murder, assault with a semi-automatic gun and manslaughter. He was convicted for being a felon in possession of a weapon.
This Friday, 1st District Court of Appeal located in San Francisco, overturned that conviction, explaining that the judge made a grave error. The jury was never told they have an option to acquit Garcia-Zarate, based on the theory that he could have possessed the weapon only for a moment. While the prosecution argues that this is trivial as Garcia-Zarate admitted he fired a gun, the court disagrees. They ask the judge to define how long should one hold the weapon before it can be considered that he or she possessed it.
The tragic incident happened on July 1, 2015, when Steinle was killed while she was walking with her family and friends. Garcia-Zarate admitted that he fired the gun, but also claimed that he picked the gun not knowing what it is, as it was wrapped in a T-shirt. He also told the police that the weapon fired accidentally. The further investigation found out that the gun belonged to a ranger and has been stolen a week earlier.
A new trial will start on January 13, and Garcia-Zarate's lawyer Tony Serra told the press that this would be another chance for prosecutors to re-try his client. In the meantime, Steinle's parents made a lawsuit against San Francisco, and it's sanctuary policy which they blame for her death.